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Trade or Career Schools

Career schools train students for a variety of skilled jobs, such as automotive technician, medical assistant, hair stylist, computer programmer, paralegal and truck driver. While many private vocational and correspondence schools are reputable and teach the skills necessary to get a good job, others may not be as trustworthy. They may promise more than they can deliver to increase their enrollment and their profits.

If you are thinking about enrolling in a career school, follow these tips to make sure it’s the right school for you:

  • Ask for the names and phone numbers of the school’s licensing and accrediting organizations. Check with these organizations to learn whether the school is up-to-date on its license and accreditation. You can also check out a particular school with the North Carolina Community College System, which licenses and regulates private career schools and requires them to have a bond.
  • Ask about the instructors’ qualifications and the size of the classes. Does the school have enough space, equipment, instructional material, and staff to provide good quality training? Ask to sit in on a class or two.
  • Find out what the credits you earn can do for you. If you plan on transferring, or trying to apply the credits you earn to another school, contact that school to make sure they will accept transfer credits from the trade or career school you are considering. If you plan to acquire a specific license or certification, contact the licensing board or certifying agency to make sure your credits from the school will meet their requirements.
  • Find out if the school offers help with job placement after graduation. If so, ask for the names of businesses where graduates have been placed, then check with the businesses to verify. Tell the school which program you are interested in and ask how much a graduate from that program will earn, on average. Then contact the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to see if the salary is accurate.
  • Talk to students about their experiences with the school. How long have they attended? How do they rate the quality of instruction? Were they surprised by any of the fees? Has the school delivered on its promises?
  • Find out the total cost of the program. Are books and equipment included in the overall fee, or do they cost extra?
  • Ask for the course outline, schedule of tuition, fees and other charges, attendance rules, grading policy and rules of conduct. All schools operating in North Carolina are required by law to have these in writing.
  • Review all written materials the school gives you, including the contract. Avoid signing up until you’ve read the documents carefully. If a school official has promised you something that isn’t in the contract, make sure you get it in writing.
  • If the school refuses to give you information in writing before you sign a contract, take your business to another school.
  • Consider your local community college instead of a private career or trade school.

We Can Help

If you have a complaint about a trade or career school, contact us for help or call toll free within North Carolina at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.